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‘Senior citizens’ club’: Congress takes on Modi govt after cabinet reshuffle

The Congress claims Prime Minister Narendra Modi was strangely disconnected from the Cabinet reshuffle exercise as BJP president Amit Shah seems to be the prime minister.

india Updated: Sep 03, 2017 19:12 IST
Agencies
Agencies
Agencies, New Delhi
Piyush Goyal‬,‪Suresh Prabhu‬,‪India‬
Union cabinet ministers and ministers of state before taking oath at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Sunday.(Arvind Yadav/HT Photo)

The Congress took a dig at the induction of four former bureaucrats in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet, saying it showed he did not trust his political colleagues.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari described the nine new ministers as a “senior citizens’ club”, pointing out that while the median age of a person in the country was 27 years, the average age of the new entrants was 60.44 years.

Tewari claimed Modi was “strangely disconnected” from the Cabinet reshuffle exercise.

“It seems that (BJP president) Amit Shah is the prime minister,” he said, referring to reports that claimed Shah summoned ministers and asked them to resign before the rejig.

He also termed the expansion “maximum government and minimum governance”.

The Cabinet reshuffle saw the induction of nine new faces. Among them were four former bureaucrats, two of whom -- former IAS officer Alphons Kannanthanam and former diplomat Hardeep Singh Puri -- are not Members of Parliament.

Ex-Mumbai police commissioner Satypal Singh and former Union home secretary RK Singh have also been sworn in.

“This reflects that the prime minister does not trust his political colleagues,” Tewari said.

He also accused the BJP of including in the Cabinet a “doctor beater” with a motive to “communalise” Karnataka, ahead of the state assembly elections next year.

Earlier this year, a video surfaced in which Anantkumar Hegde, who was made minister of state in skill development, was seen allegedly beating up doctors in Karwar.

Referring to the elevation of Nirmala Sitharaman, who was promoted to the Cabinet rank and put in charge of the crucial Defence ministry, Tewari said, “We hope she does not handle the Defence ministry the way she did the commerce ministry, which saw a crippling decline of exports-imports during her tenure”.

The former Union minister termed the elevation in the rank of Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi “mere tokenism” and said the BJP’s attitude towards Muslims was “well known”.

On Uma Bharti being divested of the Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation portfolio, he quipped, referring to the title of a Hindi film and song, “Ram teri Ganga maili ho gayi -- BJP ke paap dhote dhote (The Ganga has already been contaminated by the sins of the BJP).”

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Sunday attacked the retention of Union agriculture minister Radhamohan Singh and health minister JP Nadda in the Union Cabinet, saying both the areas are in “distress and crisis”.

“Agriculture in distress, Health in crisis, but ministers remain,” said Chidambaram on Twitter.

“Amidst all the trumped up excitement, will someone please note 13 more children died yesterday in Gorakhpur?” he said in another tweet.

Chidambaram also said: “Welcome Mr. Prabhu to Industry (manufacturing in doldrums) and Commerce (exports stagnant). Best wishes.”

BSP chief Mayawati he cabinet expansion is an attempt to divert the attention of the people from the government’s “failure” in tackling burning issues the country is facing.

“This is new drama being enacted by the BJP. The people have lost hope and are angry with the government. In place of politicians, retired bureaucrats are being relied on more in the expansion and an attempt is being made to propagate the agenda of RSS,” she said in a statement.

First Published: Sep 03, 2017 18:10 IST